NEWS: Erdington community mourns ‘local legend’ and Town Centre Manager Terry Guest

Introduction & pics by Ed King 

Local residents and businesses across Erdington are in mourning for the “local legend” and once Town Centre Manager Terry Guest, after he sadly passed away during the Christmas period.

Having run the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) from 2011 to 2022, and acting at the Town Centre Manger throughout that period, Terry was a well known and respected face on Erdington High Street and beyond.

A local resident and business owner, Terry knew all the good, bad, and bright possibilities Erdington had to offer and worked tirelessly to champion the High Street – from fighting for the rights of local retailers, to supporting the music and art events that continue to bring the High Street together.

On hearing the news of his passing, Erdington Local asked some of the people who worked closely with him to express their condolences – which you can read below.

We would also welcome more thoughts, prayers, pictures, and personal messages from anyone who knew Terry for a wider memorial feature in our February/March newspaper. To get in touch please click here or email edking@erdingtonlocal.com

From everyone at Erdington Local: Terry, you will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and love are with Jill, your wider family, and friends.

Cllr Robert Alden: “It was an honour to call local legend Terry Guest a friend as well as a colleague, having worked with him as BID Manager in my roles as a local Councillor and director of the BID for over a decade.

“Terry in his time as a fellow Erdington resident and first shop keeper and then BID manager for the High Street truly left his mark on the community and helped to make it a better place than would otherwise have been.

“They simply don’t make them like Terry anymore and Erdington is worse off without people like Terry. Our thoughts and prayers and with Jill and the rest of his family and friends at this awful time.”

Cllr Gareth Moore: “Terry Guest was a true stalwart for the High Street for many years and strived to make it a vibrant destination for people to shop and visit.

“I am grateful for all of the considerable effort he put in, working with myself and Robert, to secure improvements for the High Street, some of which are still there today, and to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour which has sadly blighted our local centre for far too long. It was a pleasure to work with him as BID manager and he will be missed by local residents and businesses alike.”

John Lynch, Erdington Street Warden: “Terry did a lot of work on the High Street and a lot of people respected him, and he’ll be sadly missed.

“He lived in Erdington so this was his home as well and he really cared about the High Street; he always did his best to make sure things were OK here and help as many stores and people as he could. He made a difference, a big difference.”

John Hodgkiss, Town Centre Manager: “Terry worked tirelessly to continually improve Erdington Town Centre. He was extremely kind, generous, and was so well loved by all retailers and stakeholders on the High Street. Terry will be greatly missed by everyone in Erdington and all who knew him.”

Paulette Hamilton MP: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Terry Guest’s passing. As the former BID manager, Terry made a lasting impact on Erdington’s Business Improvement District for over a decade.

“He was instrumental in improving the security, environment, and vitality of our High Street, as well as being a strong voice for our local business community.

“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and worked with him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Claire Marshall, Active Arts: “In one of our last conversations he fondly joked how he loved how out of mad and wild ideas, events would happen.

“Not everyone saw all that he did for the High Street, but he was often quietly supporting local activity and open to thinking about new ways to bring people to shop on the High Street.

“Thank you, Terry, for letting us put on music, crafts, and doing some really bonkers events, and for loving Erdington in a way that it deserves.”

If you would like to contribute any words or pictures to a wider memorial feature for Terry Guest in our Feb/Mar newspaper, please email: edking@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: WMP Chief Constable “determined to put more resources” into local policing and build “a higher level of visibility” in areas such as Erdington High Street

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed King or taken from live feed of SPCB

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford is “determined to put more resources into local (policing)” and assures local retailers “when our operating model changes there will be a higher level of visibility” and police presence in areas such as Erdington High Street.

Following our feature last week titled ‘Erdington retailers are losing thousands on “lawless” High Street scourged by shoplifters’, Erdington Local met with the region’s most senior police officer to discuss crime in the once busy shopping district.

As part of the Strategic Policing and Crime Board’s (PSCB) monthly meeting, chaired by Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil, the urgent plight of Erdington’s High Streeet retailers was presented directly to the WMP Chief Constable.

Issues including a lack of police presence on the High Street, the Public Space Protection Order, CCTV, and better support for the existing shop security and Erdington Street Warden were all raised – with a particular focus given to shops that report crimes and claim no effective police response.

According to many High Street retailers, repeat and violent offenders are also left unchallenged by local law enforcement – with some shoplifters let go by police who attend the scene, even after being caught on CCTV stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods and detained by shop security.

(Click here to read more about the experiences of staff working at Peacocks and the Coop on Erdington High Street.)

WMP Chief Constable Craig Guildford responded: “(What) you’ve said about shoplifters being detained does cause me some trouble and I intend to have a deeper look into that.

“Because if a shopkeeper is ringing up, and there’s a shoplifter there to be arrested, that’s being a pain in the backside, we need to go and deal with it.”

He added: “But proportionately. Sometimes if that shoplifter is of a young age, or it’s a lower value item, we may… try and use restorative justice to prevent reoffending. And I also support the officers in doing that.

“But sometimes, from a business owners perspective, that might not be the best thing since sliced bread.”

Many High Street retailers have further told Erdington Local of the problems with using emergency numbers to report crimes to the police, spending “45mins to an hour trying to get through to 101.”

Alongside no immediate response to potentially dangerous situations, one store manager also previously explained:

“One person off that shop floor could allow three of four shoplifters in the shop. I physically can’t do it; I literally can’t leave the shop floor.”

The failings of the 999 and 101 numbers were also on the Strategic Policing and Crime Board agenda, with Chief Constable Craig Guildford “less content with our position on 101s” but looking to introduce “a raft of measures” to improve the service that the force is “moving forward with at pace.”

He also urged larger local retailers to “up their own security” and build a bigger “provision of security to deter some of these offences… to make sure the most resources can be applied to the problem.”

In a Valentines Day meeting with the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) and local retailers, held at the request of Paulette Hamilton MP, Erdington’s then serving Sergeant Simon Wheeler also urged High Street businesses to use 101 to report crime – explaining the numbers of reports can affect how many officers are deployed in an area.

But despite “regular meetings” between the police and Erdington BID “to share concerns and agree approaches”, the 14 February event was the first time several retailers had met either Sergeant Wheeler or the BID’s new Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss – both of whom came into post around six to eight months ago.

When questioned if this was an appropriate amount of time for such representatives to have made contact with local retailers, especially under the shadow of constant complaints around crime on the High Street, Chief Constable Guildford responded:

“I concur with many of the points made. I do run the police force, and eight months does seem like a long time to me too. All I would say is that we’re committed to improving that.

“I definitely need people to report, to ring 999, if there’s a shoplifter detained that’s kicking off or assaulting anybody.

“And at the same time, I’d also encourage (people) to engage the BID and encourage the local businesses to work with the BID as well.

“It sounds like the new person may be able to facilitate more of that.”

BACK TO WORK: Jobs Fair to be held at St Barnabas Church on Tuesday 31 January

Words by Steve Sharma & Ed King / Pics supplied by WLCA & Ed King

On Tuesday 31 January, a Jobs Fair will be held at St Barnabas Church on Erdington High Street – giving local job seekers the chance to meet large employers in the area.

Organised by Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) in partnership with the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) the event will also provide a chance to speak directly with training providers, as well as to apply for live vacancies.

A previous Jobs Fair, held at the Erdington High Street church in August, brought together a range of providers offering opportunities around digital skills.

With medical providers and disability support charities attending the January event, including the NHS and Mencap, there will be a range of employment opportunities for people interested in a career in healthcare.

More than 70 people attended the first Jobs Fair event, with most of the employment stands busy and lined with people waiting to speak to recruiters representing a range of different industries across North Birmingham.

Melissa Gayle, Employability Coordinator at WLCA, said: “We had a wonderful turnout at the last event and are confident this next one will be just as popular as Job Fairs are a very effective way of allowing people to connect with employers.

“They also provide job seekers with the opportunity to interview for vacancies.”

John Hodgkiss, Erdington Town Centre and BID Manager, added: “The name of the project is the Erdington Employment Charter.

“It’s being put into place to offer local Erdington job seekers the best chance of success, with local partners in both the public and private sectors working together to identify local job vacancies and expedite these through to local residents.

“Furthermore, candidates will be offered a bespoke employment service tailored to them, from application advice and help through to post interview support and guidance.

“There will be an expert team on hand to offer this support, and we urge any local employers in the Erdington area to contact us with open vacancies, so we can fill these with local Erdington talent with no expense to the employer.”

St Barnabas Church, the oldest church in Erdington, hold regular community events – including a stay and play called Barnie Babies, a youth café run in conjunction with local faith based support charity Urban Devotion, and a weekly Warm Space Café with free soup and refreshments.

Jane Smith, St Barnabas Parish Administrator and Communications Co-ordinator, told: “There have been several Jobs Fairs hosted at St Barnabas Church Centre over the years and we’re always delighted to work with local partners to help make them happen.

“The events provide a valuable opportunity for local people to meet employers and training providers and find useful information on organisations that can support those seeking work.

“It promises to be a busy day and we look forward to welcoming everyone.”

Organisations already confirmed for the WLCA and Erdington BID Jobs Fair at St Barnabas Church on Tuesday 31 January include the National Health Service (NHS), Acado, AM2PM, and Mencap.

Any employers who are looking to recruit in North Birmingham and who would like to be part of event, and the wider Erdington Employment Charter, are asked to email the Erdington BID at erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk

For more from Witton Lodge Community Association visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

For more from the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk

For more from St Barnabas, including links to their social media and community events programme, visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk

LOCAL PROFILE: “The key words for Erdington are ‘massive potential’ – John Hodgkiss, Erdington’s new Town Centre Manager

Words & pics by Ed King

Last month, John Hodgkiss became Erdington’s new Town Centre Manager – taking over from the longstanding Terry Guest. With nearly two decades of experience running Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and delivering commercial strategies across the country, John has ambitious plans to rejuvenate the once thriving High Street

Erdington Local caught up with him in his first few days, as he set about meeting local business owners and entrepreneurs.

“I was excited when I saw the opportunity for Erdington.

“I know Erdington, when I first moved back to Birmingham I spent time here as I have friends here, so I knew the potential.”

John Hodgkiss is not new to the game, having set up the UKs second ever Business Improvement District (BID) in 2007 – Argall Avenue, transforming a North East London industrial estate into a thriving hub of enterprise and commerce, housing over 400 businesses today.

“I started working with BIDs in 2005, when the first ballots were going through,” every BID is voted in by a majority of business operators and rateable value in the selected area, “and at the time I was working for Business Link who had most of the national contacts for regeneration projects.

“It was an industrial estate that I found called Argyll Avenue, just outside Walthamstow. I took that to ballot and it was successful. I still check in every now and again, and it’s still in operation. It’s always been voted for and it still exists today.”

But Birmingham is not London, and Erdington has its own community and concerns – often forgotten or lost in the civic corridors of power. What makes John Hodgkiss the right man for this Midlands job?

“I’m from the Midlands, I grew up in Shropshire,” tells John. “But like a lot of twenty somethings I went and experienced London.

“Then I came back to Walsall in 2007 to set up a Town Centre Partnership – we had remit over establishing a new radio link in the town centre, street furniture, all the regeneration projects, supporting local businesses, marketing, and publicity to give a positive glow on Walsall. And to defend it if it is portrayed negatively, as most town centres sometimes are.

“Then I went to West Bromwich in 2013, as an employee of Sandwell Council – with a remit to take the BID to successful ballot within twelve months.

“We did it within eight months. It’s quite a big area, there was just in excess of 500 businesses.”

John Hodgkiss has also been a Marketing Manager for a Telford engineering company and understands the power of publicity, with a firm focus on making Erdington an attractive place to both visit and shop.

“When BIDs first came into being they were always set around the ‘cleaner projects’, making the place litter free, making the place look better.

“But on the economic side, how do we help businesses, which in 2022 is more essential than ever, there’s a role of the BID to help with advertising and marketing. To really shout about these local independent stores.”

And what would you shout about in Erdington?

“What I see to be the unique selling point of Erdington (Town Centre) is it’s a great place to get a bargain, to shop within your means,” explains John.

“You’ve got healthy greengrocers on the doorstep; you’ve got independents selling necessities at great prices… and the cost of living crisis isn’t going to be over in five minutes.”

But the word ‘bargain’ can be a blessing and a curse, as the lopsided balance on Erdington High Street is often cited as a weight dragging it down – with the old Maplin site and Central Square Shopping Centre standing as local epitaphs to the ghosts of national retail.

The week John Hodgkiss became the new Town Centre Manager, Boots shut down its Erdington store.

“We’re not moving away from the High Street brands at all,” continues John. “I would passionately argue and liaise with any national retainer to bring them in (to Erdington) and I would feel confident we can put a case together as say ‘this is why you should be in Erdington’.

“The key words for Erdington are ‘massive potential’, and the BID is going to be here for the next five years at least.

“I feel passionate about making a change in the current economic climate, and I don’t see anywhere with the potential that Erdington has. It’s a great place to be, the community is great, there is a retail offer here already – particularly in making day to day living a lot easier.

“And there is scope to bring in new blood to the town, new retailers to the town, new small businesses, and really drive the local economy forward.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk or search for ‘Erdington BID’ on Facebook

NEWS: New Town Centre Manager John Hodgkiss sees “massive potential” in Erdington

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington’s new Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, sees “massive potential” in the once busy North Birmingham High Street and shopping district.

Taking over from Terry Guest this August, Mr Hodgkiss will run the Erdington Business Improvement District for at least the next five year term.

Mr Guest is stepping down after successfully taking the BID to another ballot in November last year – returning nearly 74% in favour for renewing the Erdington business partnership, with 45 of the 61 votes cast by local businesses saying ‘yes’.

Mr Hodgkiss has a longstanding record as a Town Centre Manger, having launched business improvement districts in both the Midlands and London.

Having worked on the Victoria BID in London, his portfolio included many high profile businesses and entrepreneurs – including the Royal Family’s most recognised home, Buckingham Place.

Having launched one on the UK’s first industrial site BIDs in London, and successfully establishing and managing one of the Midlands largest BIDs in West Bromwich, Hodgkiss has a proven track record of building business communities and town centre partnerships.

Now focused on Erdington, with a clear vision to transform the High Street and promote local commerce, the experience Town Centre Manager has high hopes for the once bustling North Birmingham thoroughfare.

John Hodgkiss told Erdington Local: “My job is to make Erdington one of Birmingham’s most enjoyable and exciting satellite centres to be in. I want to make it a safer place, a greener place, and a place that crucially well marketed.

“So, one of my initial aspirations would be to go out and start doing some business visits ASAP – and that will be a good mix between national retailers, independents, as well as other major stakeholders such as the police, emergency services, market traders, and all kinds of people who have a vested interest in making Erdington even better.”

Despite the series of high profile shops and banks leaving Erdington High Street, including Boots – which closed its Erdington store the week he came into post, John Hodgkiss remains optimistic the area’s future.

When asked what attracted him the Erdington, which also has recently missed out two multi million pounds of Government investment to regenerate the High Street, Hodgkiss was keen to focus on the positives.

He added: “The key words for Erdington are ‘massive potential’, and the BID is going to be here for the next five years at least.

“In the past roles I’ve been successful at looking at things like match funding, so although it’s not a never-ending pot of money by any means there is leverage to look at getting money for small projects – but also to keep banging away with money that should still be available through the Conservative government’s Levelling Up agenda. And with a change in leadership might be bigger and more important than ever.

“I feel passionate about making a change in the current economic climate, and I don’t see anywhere with the potential that Erdington has.

“It’s a great place to be, the community is great, there is a retail offer here already – particularly in making day to day living a lot easier.

“And there is scope to bring in new blood to the town, new retailers to the town, new small businesses, and rally drive the local economy forward.”

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden, who ultimately oversees the Edington BID, was positive about the fresh approach.

He told Erdington Local: “It is great to welcome John as our new town centre manager for Erdington. He comes with previous experience of working in town centres and delivering regeneration in urban areas.

“This is going to be key as we look to work with the Town Centre Manager, BID, and local partners to deliver our plans for transformation of Erdington High Street. We very much look forward to working with John in the years ahead.”

Cllr Gareth Moore was also quick to praise the work of Terry Guest, who has steered the Erdington BID since 2011 – including through the Covid pandemic.

Cllr Moore added: “We would also like to thank Terry Guest, the outgoing town centre manager, who has been a brilliant servant for our area.

“During his time as manager, he has helped support businesses through Covid and been the rock at the heart of Erdington High Street for a decade. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit https://erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk/

NEWS: Erdington Business Improvement District voted back for another five year term

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington Business Improvement District has been successfully voted back for another five year term, receiving a landside endorsement from High Street retailers and the local business community.

With voting taking place over the last four weeks, Friday 12 November saw the final results counted – returning nearly 74% in favour for renewing the Erdington BID, with 45 of the 61 votes cast by local businesses saying ‘yes’.

Erdington BID represents businesses from Six Ways to Edwards Road, charging members 1.75% of the rateable value of their business to help promote commerce in the area – as well as tackling civic concerns such as street safety, crime, and fly tipping.

Erdington BID has also become a voice for the local business community, one able to challenge Birmingham City Council and Government over issues that affect Erdington High Street and local traders.

Recently, Erdington missed out on two multi-million pound funds from central government to regenerate the High Street – being rejected for the Levelling Up Fund in October, and the Future High Streets Fund back in January.

But local stakeholders, including Erdington BID, remain committed to finding other ways of attracting the long fought for financing to transform the High Street.

Terry Guest has been Erdington Town Centre and BID Manager since assuming the role back in 2011, successfully taking the BID into it’s now fourth term and generating over £100,000 per annum for investment into the High Street.

Following the results of the vote, Terry told Erdington Local: “I’ve been greatly encouraged this week by the number of businesses that offered support face to face, but you never know how these things are going to turn out.

“Walking down the High Street I am struck by how many shops we’ve got that are full; we don’t have a lot of empty shops and I think our percentage (of empty units), around 4%, is one of the lowest in the country. So, we must be doing something right.

“We’ve now attracted Poundstretcher to the High Street, in a massive unit that used to be occupied by New Look. So, it shows that shops here (on Erdington High Street) aren’t staying empty for very long.

When asked if he had a message for local businesses that took part in the vote, Terry added:

“A great big thank you – a great big thank you whether you voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s a democracy and if you voted ‘no’ we’d like to engage you and find out if we can do things better.”

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden also sits as Director of the Erdington BID.

Cllr Robert Alden said: “The Town Centre Manager Terry Guest does a huge amount of work for Erdington and the size of this ballot, almost 74% in favour of a further term, demonstrates just how highly his work and the BID is viewed locally in Erdington.

“The BID brings in around £100,000 of funding ringfenced to Erdington High Street area, every year. It was therefore vital that this was renewed to ensure that measures like the additional security continued going forward.

“The BID is a key part of the ongoing efforts to try and improve and regenerate Erdington High Street and to make it safer for residents.”

During the campaign to renew the Erdington BID, plans for the next five years were outlined if the vote was successful – with extra policing and increased High Street security very much a priority.

Robert added: “Looking ahead over the next five year term a key focus is going to be on trying to help regenerate Erdington and make the High Street cleaner, safer and more welcoming. To support existing businesses and to attract further ones into Erdington.

“Erdington is an amazing place with a brilliant community and we will keep doing all we can to help the BID deliver for local businesses and residents”.

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk

INTERVIEW: Terry Guest – Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager

Words & pics by Ed King

“The main plan and priority have to be now… increased security, we have to emphasise to the police and the Council the importance of providing the necessary security for this High Street and the support for our Warden.”

On Friday 12 November the future of the Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) will be known, as voting to renew the organisation finishes on Thursday this week.

Over the past month, local shop owners and businesses have been casting paper ballots ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – a vote which if successfully passed will see the Erdington BID in place for another half decade.

Each business that falls within the catchment area – which stretches from Six Ways to Edwards Road, including all shops on Erdington High Street and Sutton New Road – pays 1.75% of their rateable value to finance the BID, which stands as ‘a partnership between the business community and other local stakeholders… helping to sustain Erdington as a vibrant urban village.’

Initially voted in by local businesses in 2007, Erdington BID’s current five year term is set to expire in July 2022.

Terry Guest has been Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager since assuming the roll in 2011. He explained the organisation’s responsibilities:

“It’s twofold these days. One of the things that the BID has always done is put the basics in place – such as security, the Christmas lights, hanging baskets.

“But the BID has also done its own projects, such as the garden area we created next to the library – that was a project that proved very popular.

“One of the things I’m keen to do is to expand that green aspect of the High Street… so that anyone there can actually sit down and relax and have something of a more pleasant view than just concrete.

“There’s that sort of basic thing. But the other side of it now is that the BID has become more of a voice – a voice with the Government and a voice with the Council. And we need that now more than ever.”

Erdington High Street has recently seen applications rejected for two multi-million pounds pots of Government investment, missing out on the Levelling Up Fund in October and the Future High Street Fund back in January.

If successful, each application would have seen over £50m pumped into the High Street from the private and public sector.

Terry added: “We’ve been behind both the Levelling Up Fund and Future High Streets Fund applications, which have failed so far – but we’re not stopping at that. In the future, what the BID is evolving into, and has been for some time, is to be a voice with the Government and the Council.

“Which is important, because we know that both governments and councils recognise BIDs – and that’s becoming a larger part of it, where we have to make our voice be heard and get the best deal for businesses.”

But the fate of the Erdington BID still hangs in the balance, as local businesses ultimately vote and pay for the organisation’s next five years – a levy of around £116,000 per annum. And as in any election there are mandates and manifestos.

“One is policing,” explained Terry. “We’ve been involved very heavily in getting a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) put in place for the High Street – which, when we’ve got that in, allow us, allows anyone, to contact the police to remove anyone who is causing anti-social behaviour. Drug deals, minor crime, and so on.

“We’ve seen since 2018, when the last PSPO was cancelled, that really the aspect of working with the police is incredibly important. As it is with the Council, such as the state of the roads and pavements, the fly tipping and so on – a big portion of my job (as Town Centre Manager) these days is walking up and down the High Street taking photos of rubbish, then reporting it to the Council.”

Fly tipping and anti-social behaviour are problems raised by people across the constituency. But what can the Erdington BID do to tackle these issues on the High Street?

“What I think the BID has done… and I had evidence about this in an email from Birmingham City Council this morning about the PSPO, is that the BID has been very active in raising these issues and perhaps now getting some results.

“We’ve had a few incidents on the High Street recently which has caused me to react to the slowness of the police and Council to act in this (reinstating the PSPO).

“We are now at the stage where the Council have issued a press release and a notice of public consultation about the PSPO

“So, we’re at that stage, we will go into a public consultation about this. Not quick enough for me, whenever it is.

“I pressed the councillors about this, and I was told it could be pushed towards the end of the year.

“The original promise, by the Council earlier in the year, is that this would be done and dusted by the 30 September. To me it’s three years too late, not three months too late.”

But Erdington BID does more than tackle crime and disorder on the High Street, as the organisation allots £20000 per annum to ‘marketing, events, and promotion’ – including the long standing Christmas lights switch on.

“What we’ve also taken to doing in the last few years is sponsoring other people’s events,” explained Terry.

“So, when Oikos Café have a street event we’ve sponsored that in the past. When St Barnabas Church have their village fayre in the middle of the summer – before lockdown – we sponsored that as well. So, there’s number of ways we can promote ourselves.

“This year we’re not going to have a Christmas lights switch on… I would have had to order the lights a few months ago, when our futures were all in doubt; we didn’t know if we were going to get another lockdown so we had to abandon that.

“But there is a proviso in the business plan that if we have money somewhere that we can’t spend, then we’ll put it somewhere else.

“For instance, it’s about time we had some new litter bins on the High Street – we could perhaps finance that if we haven’t got the event money (for the Christmas lights switch on).”

But the main priority for the Erdington BID, if re-elected this week, remains a firm hand on crime and disorder – seeing anti-social behaviour on the High Street as a systemic problem.

“The main plan and priority have to be now… increased security, we have to emphasise to the police and the Council the importance of providing the necessary security for this High Street and the support for our Warden.

“The ideal is that we want daily police patrols back on the High Street and our Warden in support of those, rather than him being so proactive.

“I’m keen to get the High Street looking greener than it is; I’m keen to get more awareness of the High Steet out to the shoppers.

“But the shoppers need to feel it’s a safe place to walk up and down, or a safe place to sit on a bench and have a cup of coffee and enjoy the scenery.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk

NEWS: Erdington businesses to vote on future of Business Improvement District

Words & pics by Ed King

The future of the Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) hangs in the balance as local businesses vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for another five year term.

Local shop owners and businesses within the catchment area have until November 11 to cast their vote – which will decide future of the Erdington BID after June 2022.

Erdington BID represents businesses from Six Ways to Edwards Road, including all shops fronts on Erdington High Street and Sutton New Road.

Charging members 1.75% of the rateable value of their business, if re-elected the Erdington BID expects to generate £116,000 per year from 2022 to 2027 to help promote and support commerce in the area.

In Erdington BID’s five year forecast, if re-elected the organisation would allocate an annual sum of £26000 towards security, £20000 towards marketing, events and promotion, and £8000 to keeping the streets clean.

£42700 per annum would be spent on Erdington BID itself, paying for a ‘town centre manager, admin, finance, and business support’. A further £3000 each year would be used to pay back Birmingham City Council for loans to cover ‘renewal expenses’.

Terry Guest, Erdington BID and Town Centre Manager, told Erdington Local: “Priorities over the next five years will be to continue to make the town centre a safe and secure place to visit and shop.

“If successful, the BID will increase our warden presence in the area to six days from five, increase shops radio coverage for greater security, and to work with the local police and council to renew the Public Space Protection Order for the area, which empowers police to remove potentially threatening groups and troublemakers.

“We will also continue to press for town centre improvements to modernise the High Street and to work with the council, property owners and developers to that end – and to ensure that funding for such projects will be sought.

“We are also looking at increasing green areas in the town centre – a look at the garden next to the library – projected by the BID – which shows what can be done in small spaces.

“Above all, we will continue to work with ou business owners to ensure that Erdington town centre gets the best deal in creating a quality local High Street fit for the future.”

But opinion on the High Street is split, with business owners divided over whether Erdington BID warrants the annual six figure sum.

In a recent survey conducted by Erdington Local, nine out of 18 business confirmed they would vote ‘yes’ to grant Erdington BID another five year term – with the remaining nine unsure or voting ‘no’.

When the same businesses were asked if the Erdington BID ‘adds value to the High Street’ five answered ‘yes’. Six answered ‘yes’ when asked if Erdington BID was ‘helpful to business during the COVID lockdowns?’

Terry Guest added: “I think we maintained a good working relationship with businesses during the lockdown periods, not forgetting that a large number of our retailers were qualified to remain open and trading.

“The job of the BID during the lockdowns was to ensure that the town centre was a healthy place to visit, and with the help of the council, we were able to do that.

“We also worked with businesses in ensuring that all funding help was available to them – and we had a near 100% success rate with that.”

Further concerns were raised from local business about applications made for multi-million pound investment into Erdington, such as the failed Future High Street Fund and the pending Levelling Up Fund bids.

The Future High Street Fund would have seen up to £13m coming from Government and invested directly into Erdington High Steet.

But due to the final submission being deemed “not eligible” by the then Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall, Erdington lost out on what many believed was a strong application.

More recently, an application has been made to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund which would see £12.7million coming into Erdington.

But some local businesses are wary, with one shop owner stating: “I’ve been here for years and heard countless promises about investment into the High Street… but I’m still looking at the same cracked windows and flaking paint.”

When asked about the pending application, Terry Guest said: “I have to be confident of us getting the Levelling Up award, because the original application contained factors which have been scrutinised and amended – so I am looking forward to a positive result.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk